The deadline for early entrants to declare for the 2017 NFL draft passed on Monday. The vast majority of highly regarded prospects decided to forgo their remaining eligibility and start the clock towards their lucrative second contracts.
Overall it appears to be a robust draft class with some positions offering better options than others. This phenomena could impact front office free agency decisions, including the Baltimore Ravens offensive line plan.
Mitch Trubinsky. Deshaun Watson and DeShone Kizer are all bonafide first round prospects. Brad Kaaya and Pat Mahomes are solid Day 2 prospects. The class also features a few intriguing late round passers such as Chad Kelly and Josh Dobbs.
Running Back: A+
Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette comprise the top pair of rushers in recent memory. A handful of potential starters could be picked on Day 2, including Christian McCaffery, Joe Mixon, Wayne Gallman, Alvin Kamara and D’Onta Foreman.
Wide Receiver: B+
Mike Williams is a legitimate top-ten overall prospect and Corey Davis is right on his heels. The year’s receiver class boasts a full compliment of skill sets and is exceptionally deep with several high ceiling players expected to be available in the late rounds.
Tight End: A-
Another bumper crop, the 2017 tight ends could supply as many as seven starters by their second year in the league. The only potential knock on this group is that most of the players are better receivers than blockers. O.J. Howard, Bucky Hodges, Jordan Leggett, Evan Engram and Jake Butt headline the position.
Offensive Tackle: D
A relatively weak position in 2017. Cam Robinson is the only prospect assured of first round selection, and he is more of a right tackle than blindside protector. Most of the Day 2 projected players are flawed and need a good deal of development. Day 3 quality appears thin.
Interior Offensive Line: C+
Dan Feeney and Ethan Pocic lead a group that lacks elite prospects. Fortunately the mid rounds should provide several capable developmental centers and guards.
Interior Defensive Line: A-
The defensive tackle crop has an ideal mix of proven studs, namely Jonathan Allen, DeMarcus Walker and Carlos Watkins, as well as a few high upside prospects. Mailk McDowell, Caleb Brantley and Davon Godchaux are all young interior defenders who could bring excellent long term value if they slip down draft boards.
Edge Defender: B+
A top heavy position. After Myles Garrett, Derek Barnett and Taco Charlton, few edge rushers have the frame and strength to serve as three-down players. Most of the mid round prospects are best suited for rotational roles and the late rounds prospects do not offer much high end potential.
Reuben Foster and Zach Cunningham are quality first round prospects at a devalued position, but overall the linebacker class is not deep or supremely talented.
The 2017 class may not have a top-five overall corner, but is absolutely loaded with future stars. A many as ten corners go be taken in the first round, and possibly twenty-plus before Day 3. Size, speed, coverage ability and ball skills abound.
Another loaded position, at least three safeties should go in the first round. As many as five strong safeties could be chosen before Day 3, but what really makes this safety group special is excellent depth from top to bottom and an abundance of natural free safeties. Headed by Malik Hooker, 2017 includes more than a few centerfielder types, which has been an elusive position lately.